Two separate incidents where teachers used racial slurs in front of students have led to the dismissal of a substitute teacher at East High School while an investigation remains underway at West High School.
A teacher at West High School was removed from the classroom while school district officials investigate the teacher’s alleged use of a racial slur with a student, according to a Friday letter from Principal Karen Boran.
The incident happened on Monday, according to Boran.
"Once we were informed of the incident, we removed the teacher from the classroom while the matter is being investigated," Boran said Friday in her letter to parents. "If this is found to be true, immediate and appropriate action will be taken using all available options for recourse."
At East, Principal Mike Hernandez said in a Friday letter to parents that on Nov. 9, a substitute teacher had used a racial slur in the presence of students.
“The investigation has been completed, and the substitute teacher will not be teaching in our district again,” Hernandez said in his Friday letter.
Boran and Hernandez said the use of racial slurs is unacceptable and does not represent the high schools or MMSD.
The incidents at the high schools follow another recent incident where a teacher reportedly used a racial slur at Hamilton Middle School. The teacher resigned after she allegedly used the n-word against a seventh-grade student.
Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham addressed the incidents in an email to MMSD staff Friday.
“One of my personal reflections is that, by not communicating with you sooner about (the Hamilton incident), I inadvertently communicated a desire to sweep difficult issues under the rug or a lack of commitment to our core values. I want to assure you that is not the case,” Cheatham said in her email.
Cheatham also stressed to staff that the use of racial slurs is unacceptable in schools no matter the context.
“As a school district, we must commit to being healers and protectors for the students and families we serve and ensure that our schools and classrooms are places that value, affirm and uplift our students,” Cheatham said.
Officials at Madison's teachers union are meeting this weekend to identify ways to address these incidents, according to Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director Doug Keillor.
"The Board of Directors of MTI, speaking on behalf of our members, unequivocally support the spirit and work of anti-racism within our Madison Metropolitan School District and our larger Madison community," Keillor said in a statement. "We believe public schools have a moral responsibility to provide a quality education, broad and equitable in nature, to all students with no exceptions, exclusions or disparities."
Keillor called on MTI members to "actively engage, both personally and as a collective body, in the work of anti-racism."